The Sport of Capitalism

Sports fans tenaciously defend the integrity of the game they love by espousing their love of their team’s tradition, the parity of their favorite sport correlating with the excitement of unpredictability and volatility, and the pureness of the game itself with the phrase “for the love of the game.” Can we draw legitimate parallels between creating a level playing field on an actual playing field and our beloved economic system? How would we feel if our favorite team lost more games simply because they had more black players than the rest of the league? What if our favorite team was prohibited from truly understanding the fundamentals and rules of the game because the governing body or league didn’t afford them the resources to educate themselves? What if our favorite team was forced to compete with the players that all the other teams did not want and had no opportunity to employ the most talented and capable athletes in their respective sport? Would we watch? Would we cry foul play? In every major sport in America, we have witnessed measures to combat these potential detriments to the playing field’s equality and the health of the game itself through revenue sharing, luxury taxes, protective free agency rights, draft pick compensation limitations, salary caps, the serpentine draft process itself, and tampering rules. These protocols were implemented to create an environment of parity and one where competition would be more entertaining and legitimate. Who is our favorite team in the sport of capitalism? Are parallel measures being implemented on this competitive playing field to make it more equal and thusly make it more worthwhile and fair to all its participants? The answer is a resounding no.

There is a fixed amount of wealth to be distributed within a society. The disbursement method espoused by capitalism can be summarized by the phrase, “You can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” The profit motive outweighs the moral imperative when regarding capitalism. Wealth is aristocratically protected by generational inheritance which ruins any possibility for legitimate social mobility. The bourgeois are for the most part exempt from significant taxation because wealth itself is not taxed. The truly wealthy do not have income and are being paid to invest their money far more than the rate at which their investments are taxed. In fact, the Federal Reserve bank in our capitalist economic system is a private organization that has its own profit agenda from which we borrow from literally and figuratively. So, in America, the proverbial championship contenders, to use a sports phrase, are always the same. They are always contending for the prize each season (maximum profit) but against what competition?

Ironically, competition is the greatest guise of all when it comes to understanding capitalism. There is no such thing as competition in a market like our own. The more sophisticated and wealthy an economy becomes, the more consolidated and monopolized the society’s capital…The housing bubble bursting in 2008 brought windfall profits for bargain shopping banks and upper echelon investors at the cost of American’s tax dollars, pensions, and mortgages. Lending subsidies were bought and sold (absorbed would be a better word) by mega banks like JPMorgan Stanley while Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup also purchased and traded derivatives of commodified mortgage subsidies that were now insured by the Federal Government (so, long story short? the taxpayer who had their mortgage with a lender, lost their house because of volatile instability in the housing market at the fault of their lender, their lender is purchased by a larger financial institution who is now collecting on their absorbed unpaid mortgages and presenting that bill to the aggregate taxpayer (the same one who is now homeless) in the form of the bailout proceedings) Oh, but they did not stop there. Some institutions purchased defaulting mortgages from failing banks and lenders, packaged the most volatile and risky of those flaming mortgage agreements, sold their derivatives as a security to another institution and or then shorted the security of handpicked failing funds. That is insider trading. It’s a fix. The game was rigged and we wonder why the same team wins every time? Not only that but look at the results. Property, or in this case mortgages, lending capacity, and financial capital were compressed and consolidated into the hands of a few exponentially more powerful banks as a consequence of the housing crisis which fundamentally was a function of the financial institutions’ response to the Federal Reserve’s prime rate at which they lend money to the financial institutions who precipitated the fallout. Ask yourself, Cui Bono, to whose benefit? Not yours and not mine but there was an exorbitant amount of power and capital that was redistributed in this capitalistic disaster and the distribution went straight up…

Mortgage backed securities where the lender gets to pick which mortgages are included in the derivative security is tantamount to a head coach of a football team reffing the game his team plays in and being the bookie who set the spread for the contest. We wouldn’t accept those circumstances for beloved football team, so why do we guarantee this reality for ourselves and those less fortunate than us? Sports is a great example to use in this discussion because they are inherently self interested and competitive. Each team wants to win, each player wants to outshine another and so on. But, as we see in sports, the true success of the product as a whole is competitive balance and regulation. The product of capitalism is riddled with competitive imbalances, based on circumstance (race, socio-economic classifcation), corruption, and barbarism. The poor stay poor in a capitalist society and the rich stay rich. Everyone in the middle believe they are more privileged and more capable of upward advance than they actually are but the lives of those in the middle class aren’t worth the upheaval it would require to provide justice for those who are being oppressed and against those who oppress from the top down. In the sport of capitalism, every team believes they can win and pull the upset but how many times do we have to witness the slaughter on the proverbial field before we realize that that upset is never going to happen?

Finally, once we conclude the level playing field is certainly not evident we ask ourselves how might it be achieved? Herein lies the biggest problem for those who are aware of capitalism’s shortcoming and exploitation. What body is capable of regulating the sport of capitalism in the same way the league office of any of your favorite sports can pass a rule change or a revenue change themselves that will better their game? We are powerless. Congress can’t even pass budgets. Not to mention the fact that Congress and the President are all classified as bourgeois anyway and as the rules of capitalism dictate, there is no moral imperative that can quell self interest so they will do what their post asks them to rather than what the people deserve. When wealth’s distribution is stagnant, every dollar you “earn” is a dollar someone else can no longer have so we are all experiencing the problem of capitalism while we are all simultaneously exacerbating that problem. The system cannot be rectified by a commissioner like the NFL and it can’t be rectified by a powerless politic (we the people) so grassroots are in order. The best place to start? Change your allegiances within the sport of capitalism. Pick a new favorite team. Better yet? Pick a new sport altogether because a game that ensures poverty, celebrates greed, insulates the wealthy from those they exploit, and disenfranchises rational dissent is an unfair contest that is not worth paying attention to because we are intelligent enough to know the score of the game without looking at it. I’ll give you a hint, the score has never been in our favor and it never will be unless we stop playing.

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